ONE of the Capital’s most successful boys’ football clubs has been thrown out of two major cup competitions – including the under-16s Scottish Cup – over a “clerical error”.
Hutchison Vale FC coaches said they were shocked when the team was ejected from both the national and South East region cups by the Scottish Youth Football Association (SYFA) after a keyboard “slip” led to one of their players being registered incorrectly.
They said the player was accidently registered for the 2011-12 season,instead of the current one, when details for the 15-year-old were submitted online.
Its understood the boy had been properly registered by the club since the age of five
The Capital team – semi-finalists in last year’s SYFA Cup and among the favourites to triumph in 2013 – had progressed to the quarter finals of the national trophy.
Hutchison Vale coaches said the match was handed to rival city side Tynecastle, after SYFA bosses opted to “punish” the team, and said crucial league points could also be deducted.
Head coach Anwar Thabet said: “This is draconian and unfair. I admit, I ticked the wrong box on the registration form. But to make all of the boys suffer for this one mistake is outrageous.
“They are devastated.”
The father of the player involved, who did not want to be named, was too upset to speak at length but said: “We are as gutted as everyone else.”
Mr Thabet, Hutchison Vale head coach for the last three years, revealed the error came to light during a cup match just under a month ago – which they won 9-1 – when a complaint was lodged over registration of his player.
He revealed the player was “vilified” and “given a hard time at school” when news of the blunder emerged.
“He feels he was the one to let the team down even though he was totally innocent,” said Mr Thabet.
“I wrote to the SYFA, held my hands up and said, yes it was my fault, my mistake, but I hoped common sense would prevail and that the boys wouldn’t be punished.
“I think they’re scared that if they’re seen to be lenient with us, the other teams will try this in future.
“But this was an unwitting error. We have guys who are in the national under-16s squad and guys training with teams such as Aberdeen and Cowdenbeath.”
The SYFA decision was also condemned by players and their parents.
Team captain Jack Philp, 15, an S4 pupil at Currie Community High, said: “We are pretty distraught about the whole thing.
“We just have to move on but it’s hard to take.”
Jack’s father, Steven, 45, said: “The boys will be disillusioned with the game, the team, the sport. They’ve worked hard all season.”
No-one was available for comment at the SYFA.
PIPELINE FOR TALENT
HUTCHISON Vale has produced a stream of football stars since it was established in 1940.
Among the team members to achieve prominence is Manchester United and Scotland midfielder Darren Fletcher, spotted by Old Trafford scout Andy Perry while playing in a tournament for Hutchison Vale.
Gary Caldwell, formerly with Celtic, now at Wigan Athletic and a Scotland international, spent a year with the club when he was 15.
Kenny Miller played for Hutchison Vale with Gary Mason – who played 300 times for Dunfermline – and Kenny Milne, later of Hearts and Falkirk.
Miller distinguished himself at Hibs, Rangers, Celtic, Wolves, and for Scotland.